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Catalogue essay - Andrew Atchison
Kings ARI, 2008

THE IMPOSSIBLE: The room facilitates the presentation of ideas. If only we were content to stay in this room. To imagine it as an interior space that didn’t require surpassing. That the structure that encloses our body and its relation to the aesthetic were enough – that we were comfortable. 1 This is a kind of fable that I am imagining. But the social structure of the room is not innocuous. The baggage that we invariably carry pierces this hermetically sealed delusion. Our sociability clouds our experience of the ideas‐turned‐aesthetic‐experience. And there, where the room once presented L beams or some rectilinear prism2 is a series of rainbows. Whilst all these forms influence our navigation of the room, the rainbows differ. The rainbow registers a whole lot of sentiment within the literal simplification of the colour spectrum. A range of symbols emerge – from the utopic to those relating to social inclusion.3 Or are these ideas the same thing? Unlike the rectilinear prism that I might be unfairly typecasting as the socially repressed – its sentiment hidden within its hardened armature. 4 The rainbow accounts for a sense of self that accompanies the body that steps over or dunks under the obstacle.

THE INVISIBLE: Whilst rainbows are visible – their ends are very much not. The end of a rainbow is usually considered a site of mythic proportion or at the very least imaginary. Transforming the atmospheric phenomenon into a graphic geometric iteration creates an end. This nothing isn’t the negative space of a drawing as nihilist thud. This transformation allows a freedom to not only imagine the rainbow in various formal configurations but to also understand it symbolically within the space of drawing and the space of presentation. The end of the rainbow in this case is blankness or a gap that leads us to another rainbow ‐ this time its horizontal inverse. The gap therefore isn’t nothing but something, that facilitates the comprehension of a form that is unified. It is paradoxically a continuous circular form that is disrupted. 5 It is a form that frames nothing in some ways but also the corner of room. 6The absolute quality of the corner becomes framed by a rainbow.

THE IDENTIFICATION: An authority figure is pointing at you. The act of pointing can be understood as a type of empowerment that defines an ideological boundary. 7 This isn’t about the adequacy of the boundary but that a boundary has taken shape. There is now some sort of name, grouping, discourse or differentiation that emanates from this boundary. But what if it wasn’t so simple? That this said authority figure couldn’t blithely point at you because you were never some singular point to begin with. 8 You are now a type of multiple that can, and is being pecked apart. This notion of you is caught up in moments of dispersion. At first this might seem evasive but a document is produced to make things clear and transparent. You are not everywhere but somewhere ‐ outside that room that once gave you a false sense of security. So the pointing finger now becomes the pointing camera that records a process as opposed to describing an object. The idea of you is now in motion but you still feel very much at home.

1 Andrea Fraser in Why does Fred Sandback’s Work Make Me Cry? (Grey Room, Winter 2006, No. 22, Pages 30‐ 47) explores how art is an impossibility. This is where art can’t obviously “exist outside the field of art” but at the same can’t exist within it either. In a development of her work within the discourse of Institutional Critique – Fraser describes a violent loss associated with the utopian ideal we imagine art once was. She notes “It is the idyllic, primal state of culture we want to imagine once prevailed before the expulsion, when we were driven out into the world of specialisation, hierarchical divisions of labour and competence, and competitive struggles for recognition and reward.”
2 Robert Morris Untitled (L‐beams) 1965 or work by Donald Judd made before 1983. Judd made the decision at this point to make furniture. Not only can you buy some of the metal fabrications in a range of hues but the potential agency afforded to a piece of furniture might also create the odd rainbow.
3 It can be argued that the artist Andrew Atchison uses the rainbow as a system to orientate our bodily movement and gaze in recent work. But the symbolic quality of rainbow doesn’t compare to the performed literalism posited by the discourse of Minimalism. A brief internet search found a rainbow in: Apple’s Rainbow Bitten Logo (1976‐1998); Girl Guides between the ages of 5‐7; associations that advocate for accessible housing for adults with disabilities; flags representing everything from world peace to social revolution, Meher Baba’s Indian mysticism; and of course Lesbian Bisexual Gay Transgender and Intersex communities.
4 Whilst it’s hard to find an ounce of irony or humour in the Minimalist canon, it would be fair to note that Robert Morris’ ad in Art Forum for Castelli‐Sonnabend Gallery (April 1974) performatively uses the drag of SM to critique the hyper‐masculinised forms and processes of his and his peers. Virginia Spivey in Sites of Subjectivity: Robert Morris, Minimalism and Dance (Dance Research Journal, Winter, 2003 pp 113‐130) explores how gender is explicitly addressed in his practice.
5 The rings that are used are used as architectural highlighters follow the logic of Gestalt psychology: “a shape, configuration, or structure which as an object of perception forms a specific whole or unity incapable of expression simply in terms of its parts.” (Oxford English Dictionary).
6 In Andrew Benjamin’s recent paper Sculpture, Mattering and the Body: Notes on Eva Hesse (26/5/2010) (yet to be published) makes mention of the Modernist architecture of Frederick Kiesler. Benjamin noted that Kiesler’s unbuilt Endless House Project (1950‐1960) with its perpetually rounded apertures and structural supports resisted the absolute (or “fascist”) quality of the right‐angle found in a more rectilinear formations. I am wondering what happens when you frame this fascism with a rainbow…
7 Louis Althusser’s notion of interpellation is a “process where ideology literally recruits subjects7.” (from Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses in Lenin and Philosophy and other Essays (1971), pp. 121‐176), Althusser’s interpellation is like someone yelling “hey, you there” from across the street. This moment speaks volumes to my private sense of self as I remember key childhood moments where I realise I am a migrant sparrow from the wrong side of town.
8 Judith Butler both affirms the importance of the representing marginalized subject‐positions without as she notes the risk of “ one who would use the term…[being]… established as a one by the term” in Discussion between Judith Butler, Stanley Aronowitz, Joan Scott, Chantal Mouffe and Cornel West. (October, Summer 1992, pp. 108‐129, MIT Press)

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